Posts Tagged ‘theology’

When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. (Acts 2:1-4 MSG)

Yeah, those were the good ol’ days, eh?

Today, the church spends cash, not time, to muster God

Courtesy: Jews for Jesus

Folk gathered together. In one accord even. Ready to worship God just because he is God.

They were not concerned about what tunic to wear in case “that saint” sees them. They did not get all up in a stiff wind when Captain Christian walks by and does not call on them to be the fill-in usher.

No, these were people who loved Jesus because he loved them, didn’t have sins in the closet (largely because they didn’t know how to hide them) and most importantly, discovered that it didn’t matter what song was playing softly in the background, they could still press in and experience Christ.

It seems people are spending all kinds of cash to bring God down to their level instead of time in prayer to get the Church to go up to his level. That should not be. Big churches are nice only if they can be broken down one small church at a time.

These days? Not so much.

People are pretentious, megalomaniacal, self-centered and disinterested in dealing with common prayers. And those are just a smattering of today’s megachurch pastor. Let’s not discuss the “Sunday brunch attending, no manners having, get on my last nerves being” saints just warming a pew. Lord have mercy.

There are some that desire to touch the hem of his garment still, which is why, according to this story in the Denver Post and Yahoo! News, some folk are leaving the church and deciding to be the Church elsewhere.

Megachurch, meet microchurch. Growing numbers believe the tiny house church, also called a simple church or an organic church, might be the mightier transformer of Christian lives. A recliner becomes a pulpit. A sofa and some armchairs serve as pews… The key element is that the group is small enough for everyone to participate fully and to connect intimately. In this, the new followers believe, they are like the earliest Christians, who also met in small groups in homes.

See through a brand to get to the man Jesus

Go to the Golden Gates! Not the Arches.

To many Christians these days, size indeed does not matter. And egos are still in check. People no longer want to sit in a cozy chair and hear about Jesus. They want to get involved in a group and experience Jesus!

They aren’t interested in “Mr. Megachurch’s Ego Boost Tower of Babel.” They believe they have as much right into the Holy of Holies as the guy with the stained collar does. So why not demand it, or better yet, change your surroundings to demand it? Many already are, but why now?

Religion surveyors, theologians and other experts say millions of American adults are experimenting with new forms of spiritual communities. Many are abandoning traditional church because, among many reasons, the Americanized church has become, for them, too corporate and consumeristic.

Odd, isn’t it?! America sits through church on Sundays minding their watch religiously. And why? To get to Luby’s.

Sunday is not about an embrace; it’s about a brand. Worshiping God is not about the music carrying you into heaven; it’s having a concert with eardrum splitting decibels so loud, you can shout to heaven.

There are ATMs in churches. Starbucks in churches. Merry go rounds in churches. And I get it, so spare the rhetoric of “we need to attract the lost before we bring them to Jesus.” Yes, but you are allowing the church to do all the work.

Get that? “WE bring them to Jesus.” Not the church, not the church’s accutrements, not the megachurch pastor’s whimsical way with ministering the Gospel. All that is fluff. It is about you getting off your blessed assurance and making the invite.

Perhaps that invite would be easier to someone’s living room than a nouveau riche ‘Upper Room’? Who knows?

“It’s kind of seen as an alternative or radical kind or approach,” [Reggie McNeal, church consultant] said. “An increasing number of people are saying that they don’t want to go to (any) church so there better be a way for church to just be where people already are.”

By and large, folk are tired of being fake and wearing a mask. They already do it to work, around “Friends” and even at home. Let us begin to be real at church and if you can’t, perhaps you should consider finding another place to worship.

Only understand this: There is no perfect church, only a perfect Jesus. Serve wherever. Worship whenever. Pray however. But, for the love of God, if you can’t do any of that in the privacy of your own home, church is nothing but lip service.

Spare the Carmex, folks and get real with Jesus!

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But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:29 – 31 NKJV).

A cross or a tree, Jesus still died for our sins

Imagine worship without this picture in mind? Me neither.

Rappers, athletes, entertainers and Christians alike adorn themselves in bedazzled crosses or even a blinging crucifix to show how upstanding with the Lord they really are. Why? That’s the universal symbol of where Jesus gave his life for us.

Yet, thanks to this story from CNN and AOL News, we read one Swedish theologian who believes that’s not the case and perhaps the aforementioned verse in Acts is closer to the truth of Jesus’ crucifixion.

The Gospels do not say Jesus was crucified, Gunnar Samuelsson says. In fact, he argues, in the original Greek, the ancient texts reveal only that Jesus carried “some kind of torture or execution device” to a hill where “he was suspended” and died, says Samuelsson, who is an evangelical pastor as well as a New Testament scholar.

What the what?

First, I doubt dude was just doing an exegesis on the temperament of Christ, when perchance he tripped and slid his pen over to the crucifixion. No, he set out to do this and knew he would get the 10-inch headline before we had a chance to refute this hullabaloo.

So, congrats?

Anywhoo, it begs an interesting thought… although based in a wheelbarrow of bunk. Why does Paul write that in Acts? “Hanging on a tree.” I have read that verse many times and just considered it a synonym to two trees in the form of a cross. Didn’t you?

“When the Gospels refer to the death of Jesus, they just say that he was forced to carry a “stauros” out to Calvary,” he told AOL News. Many scholars have interpreted that ancient Greek noun as meaning “cross,” and the verb derived from it, “anastauroun,” as implying crucifixion.

“‘Stauros’ is actually used to describe a lot of different poles and execution devices,” he says. “So the device described in the Gospels could have been a cross, but it could also have been a spiked pole, or a tree trunk, or something entirely different.” In turn, “anastauroun” was used to signify everything from the act of “raising hands to suspending a musical instrument.”

Yeah, can’t you see every crucifixion scene in Hollywood depicting the Christ hung on a saxophone? Dimwit, of course that’s not what this instance means. Listen, crucifixion was different in different lands, nonetheless it was the death du jour for the Roman Empire. In fact, Caesar is said to line the main streets with crucified criminals … on crosses … to show the rest of the country, “Screw with Rome and do so at your peril.”

Roman crosses

Whatever the shape, a cross is all he needed.

Crosses are mainly Ts, for the Greek letter Tau. Legs had to held together and arms had to be spread apart to display surrender, helplessness and also eliminate any opportunity for preventing asphyxiation, because all that weight will certainly choke you if the pain doesn’t first.

For me, the moral of this story is this: Who cares. This should do nothing but galvanize our faith.

Jesus’ gift to us should not be relegated to a T, X or any other letter of the alphabet. Let jewelers and people who adorn the Vatican worry about that.

This guy may or may not have tried to undermine Christianity. I doubt it, but he did know this research would get his name on the theological map. Again, kudos Magellan.

Regardless of the research (and it is impressive), the end of the story is still the same.

Whether Jesus was hung on a high Tau with just “INRI” inscribed at the top, the regaled low Tau as seen in Catholic churches everywhere or even on a tree with branches flailing in either direction, the fact is irrefutable – he died, rose again and lives forevermore awaiting a triumphant return.

And for that, I’ll still wear my Christian jewelry, worship at the feet of Jesus and envision him there for me… on a cross, an X or a huge sequoia. Makes no difference to me. I’m still saved as a result.

BP's huge oil spill is about to hit land across the entire Gulf of Mexico

Something wicked this way comes

The Gulf of Mexico is murky, toxic and is literally a sea of despair. The video is harrowing. The threat to the environment, ecosystem and the seafood industry is alarming.

And yet, the silence from the Church on this travesty is deafening!

Why?

Aren’t we to be stewards over this planet? Do we not have dominion over the fish of the sea? Should we not protect the gifts God Almighty has bestowed upon us?

Then why does it seem the Church could care less about the tragic state of affairs in the Gulf of Mexico? As long as it doesn’t affect church attendance on Sunday, you’re cool?

This is far from a “liberal rant,” but rather as a child of God disgusted by his siblings when someone has just whizzed all over the gift Daddy bought me. Make no mistake – that is precisely what BP is doing as long as that spicket can’t get corked 30,000 leagues under the sea.

If you need any tug at your heart, consider these numbers, thanks to Newsweek:

  • 400 different species are being threatened by the oil
  • 7,000 square miles of federal fishing area has been closed because of the spill
  • $14 billion is the price tag of BP’s oil spill… so far
  • 3.5 million gallons of crude oil has been spilled in the Gulf. Helllloooo Exxon Valdez.

And none of that creates a prayer group, a vocal televangelist or even a reporter knocking on the door of any random pastor? Stunning.

An ichthus, a fish for Christ can swim in this oil and make a difference

It's time for us to swim upstream and make a difference

If anyone should be advocating the newly formed “Gulf Aid,” it should be the Body of Christ. We should be first in line to donate resources, offer time and pray for the near $1.6 billion in economy that has stopped to a grinding halt due to this mess. No deep horizons for those small business owners.

Seafood trade – done. Gulf restoration – back to the drawing board. Safety for the ecosystem – not a chance.

Hey, Church? Want a mission field? How’s the gulf sound right about now? You could send a team of volunteers to serve in the Gulf, do your part and help restore a broke, busted and disgusted economic system down there.

Listen, pastor of the Generic Church Assembly. I understand you are all bunched up about the immigration policies in Arizona, the health careless plan of Barack Obama and whatever else your cronies are babbling about around the water cooler, but this should matter to you and your congregation.

Why? Other than the aforementioned reasons rooted in theology, did you know Earth Day was actually not created by the far leaning left, but rather has a little to do with some right standing Pentecostal folks? In other words, God cares about this place so we should too!

Just think… five years after the worst natural disaster leveled the Gulf; the worst environmental disaster is about to topple that distinction. Meanwhile, can’t we at least pray for God’s hand to bring about healing and restoration here?

I challenge you to challenge your pastor about this issue. Folks, we need to pray. We need to take that dominion out for a spin and see what it can do.

And if that’s not enough, we need to do something. At least, that’s what the world would not expect.

I would love to disappoint them. Namely in this case.

P.S. If you know anyone in your church that was chanting, “Drill Baby Drill” during the last election. I would recommend a suggestion for you to said tool, “Go Clean Baby Clean.”

First, it was prayer in schools. Next, it was gripe at the U.S. Treasury for all that “In God We Trust” mess.

Now, a concentrated group of collegiate nimrods have decided to take on the student body of their Texas institutions demanding “in the year of our Lord” be removed from their diplomas, according to WOW News’ Houston Belief (from the Chronicle).

The catch – and I can’t make this stuff up – the students attend a faith-based institution called Trinity University.

“A diploma is a very personal item, and people want to proudly display it in their offices and homes,” said Sidra Qureshi, president of Trinity Diversity Connection [and resident Muslim]. “By having the phrase ‘In the Year of Our Lord,’ it is directly referencing Jesus Christ, and not everyone believes in Jesus Christ.

Hey, uh, Sid. When you were a senior in high school messing with your lovely hijab for graduation pictures, you were thinking about colleges to attend, right? Did Allah hip you to the fact that “TRINITY” was a big clue as to where this particular institution had some allegiance?

Courtesy: Trinity University

Still, nothing, eh? How about this…

“Any cultural reference, even if it is religious, our first instinct should not be to remove it, but to accept it and tolerate it,” said Brendan McNamara, president of the College Republicans. McNamara pointed out that Trinity displays other signs of its Christian heritage, including a chapel on campus, a chaplain, Christmas vespers and a Bible etching on the Trinity seal. “Once you remove that phrase, where do you draw the line?” McNamara asked.

Hello? McFly? Does air get underneath your head covering because you may be getting dizzy.

This story reeks of some tool with the ACLU calling her up and saying, “Yeah. I know you have been going there for a few years already, but have you ever thought about the whole B.C. versus A.D. conundrum?”

Granted, this girl has gone almost 16 years studying some fashion of history where the years were annotated with either B.C. or A.D. Also, she has attended a college in heavily Catholic San Antonio named after the three facets of the triune Godhead. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until now that a sanctimonious weed has sprouted in her staunch Muslim behind.

Seriously?

And prior to what she thinks or has been told in her local Mosque, A.D. does not mean “After Death”. If that were the case, then Jesus’ 33 years on this earth would be the gray zone. A.D. is Latin for Anno Domini Nostri Iesu (Jesu) Christi. And, like it or not, the ministry of Christ is the “turning point of civilization,” which makes 2010 not the year of our Allah.

Sorry, but Neener, Neener, Neener!

Some do not like it, but deal with it in solace because the money in their pocket – although adorned with God’s grace – gets the hippie lettuce from the town’s half-baked loser.

And, despite the dastardly reminder of what year this is, said diploma helps folk get a job outside of waiting for the fry guy to retire so you can stop making those friggin’ shakes all day.

Nonetheless, the PC kowtow express is taking off according to a Trinity University press release:

In the interest of free and open exchange of ideas and thoughts, the University has held a forum to examine the request from a range of viewpoints… in May, the Board of Trustees is expected to consider the question of changing the language of diplomas.

I have a viewpoint, and it’s not all together sanctified but what the hey… hand the scattered few who have a problem with it to graduate and split. If they aren’t happy with it, how about attend Muhammad’s Campus of the Performing Arts or The University of Freethought.

Sorry? Those don’t exist? Then shut up.

Every college diploma in the U.S. has that because it’s called time. It’s not a religious statement; it’s a chronological one. And for both the Julian and Gregorian calendar, so cuss out a Christian and a Pagan if you would like. This is a Presbyterian college, lady and you should have known that attending your first class of English 101.

They aren’t changing… so I suppose you should. Sure, you got your 15 minutes of dumbfounded fame. Sure, you scared the school’s PR flack Susie Gonzalez into writing that shameful press release. But Kushite, please. “Our Lord” isn’t going anywhere. You may however.

Or better yet, ask your nearest campus counselor where the bookstore is located. No, not to purchase a Qu’ran but liquid paper. I hear that stuff will wipe out anything, including that light-headed issue you are currently battling.

According to the generically entitled “theologian” Sam Storms, it is.

And to his credit, he brought up some salient points at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Okla. about man’s plight into this eternal quest for a payday and the pablum that necessitates it.

“For most professing believers if God is love he must promise to minimize my struggles and maximize my pleasure,” he lamented. “Many believe it’s their spiritual birthright to experience comfort and prosperity and that it’s God divine obligation to provide it.

See, regretfully, this entire doxology has created a distorted view of the love of God. To some who attend certain megachurches or follow particular global ministries, that love is a credit card with no limit allowing God’s children to be footloose and fancy free because whatever happens, “God loves me.”

(NOTE: There is no generalization here. Many big churches and ministries are fulfilling God’s purpose, but it’s the snake oil salesmen that ruin it for everybody.)

It’s a brainwashing tactic, not a biblical exhortation, of which we have become all too familiar thanks to many misanthrope swindlers who have used it to their advantage and not for the benefit of their sheep (i.e. Kenneth Copeland, Rod Parsley, Benny Hinn and now entering the fold, Ed Young).

People give, give and give believing they are doing the right thing (admirable) and that God must give it back so “that I may lack nothing” because he loves me. See, it’s twisted because of three reasons:

  1. God does love us more than can we ever comprehend
  2. We are his children and because of that, why would he ever want us to suffer
  3. There is an enemy and “our Daddy can kick your Daddy’s tail in a minute”

All that is very true. However, what the sheep are not told before they are sheered is they may experience heartache despite the checks they donate. Essentially, God is the mighty purveyor of “Opposite Day” – if Satan wants me to experience lack, then God will cause me to experience abundance.

Yes… and a big no.

The so-called prosperity gospel that teaches wealth and good health is a sign of God’s favor and blessing is prevalent in the church, Storm lamented. Underlining the seriousness of the problematic theology many preachers have picked up, the Oklahoma City pastor called it a “corrosive and disintegrative pox” on the church and “a disease far more infectious and ultimately fatal to the soul than the worst bubonic plague and the affects it might have on the human body.”

Man, and I just want God to help me pay my light bill… now this?!

I see what he is saying. People are becoming sorely irresponsible with accountability, not just the malefactors exhorting but also the men and women experiencing. Aside from having favor, blessing, abundance or whatever words fit from the slimy televangelist thesaurus there, 2 Timothy 2:3 reminds us we still have an enemy because “you therefore endure hardship, as a good soldier in Christ.

The only check that isn’t unveiled at one of these pep rally for Jesus crusades is the reality check.

If you want to sum up this walk with the Lord in one sentence, try this: God hates sin and has provided Jesus to escape it, while Satan hates you and will do everything to make you leave God.

Help us to see what you have for us, oh God.

Raise your hand if you have suffered at all this last year. Well, joy comes in the morning and for many of us, it’s been one long night. We could all use a break, and thanks to God’s grace and mercy, we got more of those than we realize.

The suffering is the clue that a blessing is coming because God works to get stuff to us and the enemy fights it every time. Sometimes the fight is so quick, it doesn’t phase you. Other times, the fight is long because the enemy is real and he fights to win.

It’s a losing battle, praise God, but a battle nonetheless.

I once heard a stoic pastor say, “Good is the worst enemy of best, because anyone can provide good but only God can give you his best.”

The prosperity gospel shows us that you shouldn’t have to wait for that filet mignon God has intended for you because if you eat all that fat-induced ground beef, you still feel full… and isn’t that satisfying? Sometimes Wall Watchers, we have to wait… but it is so worth it.

We will endure hardship while still being favored of God. We will experience a rough patch before things get smooth. We will walk through the valley of the shadow of death… but at least we are walking. We will go through hell to get to heaven.

Use whatever axiom you wish. God is real and you aren’t him, so rejoice that there is a plan and when you give money to a church or a minister, do it not to buy God’s grace but because you have some grace to give to others.

Still don’t believe me? Take it from Peter who incurred a ton of heartache and he walked next to Jesus.

Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

If you’re abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. It’s the Spirit of God and his glory in you that brought you to the notice of others. If they’re on you because you broke the law or disturbed the peace, that’s a different matter. But if it’s because you’re a Christian, don’t give it a second thought. Be proud of the distinguished status reflected in that name!

It’s judgment time for God’s own family. We’re first in line. If it starts with us, think what it’s going to be like for those who refuse God’s Message!

If good people barely make it,
What’s in store for the bad?
So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what he’s doing, and he’ll keep on doing it. (1 Peter 4:12-19 MSG)